Record unemployment affects these South Africans the most

Women and young people are at the end of the line.
Women and young people are at the end of the line.
Image: AP Photo/Denis Farrell
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South Africa’s unemployment rate is relentlessly climbing, a trend that shows no sign of abating. Statistics South Africa, a government agency, said on Nov. 22 that the country’s unemployment rate has risen to 27.1% from 26.6% in the second quarter of 2016, the highest it’s been in 13 years.

The statistics agency counted 5.873 million South Africans of working age without jobs. Even though the country saw some increase in employment, it was not enough to offset losses in struggling sectors like mining and agriculture. The domestic sector, which includes maids (known in South Africa as domestic workers) and gardeners, saw a quarterly decrease of 15,000 jobs.

That picture becomes even more dire when you break the statistics down by age and gender. Job opportunities for South Africa’s young people are way below global average, with kids coming straight out of school the worst affected, facing an unemployment rate of 65.5%. Those statistics include discouraged young job-seekers who have given up trying to find a job.

Women also remain the most vulnerable to the forces of the labor market, especially women of color who mainly hold low-skilled jobs.

While other African states enjoy sustained growth, South Africa’s economy has struggled to recover the million jobs lost during the global recession. Economic turbulence and policy uncertainty saw unemployment resume its ascent from the first quarter of 2015. Despite a national plan to eliminate poverty and inequality by 2030, South African policy has yet to have a positive effect on the job market.